10 Facts you never heard about Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the Van Gogh Museum

by Tanja
Amsterdam Van Gogh

The Van Gogh Museum is located in Amsterdam at the Museum Square (Museumplein). The Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum has on display around 200 paintings and drawings and also, some 750 letters of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

The Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum holds the largest collection of works by this 19th-century painter. Works like The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, The Bedroom and his self-portrait (when he cut his own ear) are famous all over the world. 

1. Tickets to the Van Gogh Museum are sold with a time slot

The Van Gogh Museum is extremely popular. Because people stand hours in line trying to get a ticket, tickets are now only sold with a date and timeslot. This means that sometimes tickets are already sold out for the day you want to go! Don’t miss out and get your tickets online.

Van Gogh Museum Special Offers

With the I Amsterdam City Card, entrance to the Van Gogh Museum is free (though you still need to book a timeslot). But there are more Amsterdam City Passes available. Or you can combine your ticket to the Van Gogh Museum with a canal cruise or entrance to another museum or attraction.

2. Friday Night it’s party time at the Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is open every day and it closes at 18.00h (6 pm). Except on Friday! On Friday evening the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is open till 22.00h (10 pm). A DJ plays relaxing music, there are video projections, the bar is open and the guided tours are free (tour in English starts at 19.00h).

Usually, there are special workshops or lectures. Friday Evening is the best time to visit the museum because it is the quietest time of the week. Every last Friday of the month there is a special program with young, creative talents from Amsterdam. Check the Facebook page for more info.

Vincent van Gogh Museum
Wheatfield with Crows
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Auvers-sur-Oise, July 1890
oil on canvas, 50.5 cm x 103 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

3. Vincent van Gogh was not from Amsterdam

Though the Van Gogh Museum is in Amsterdam, Vincent was not from here. Vincent van Gogh was born in the South of The Netherlands, near the Belgian border. When he was 33, he moved to Antwerp and then to Paris.

Vincent van Gogh did live in Amsterdam for about one year, from 1877 till 1878. When he was 24 years old he wrote to his brother about his stay here: “It’s a beautiful city here. I wish I could show you all kinds of things”. Later he moved to the South of France to the village of Arles. Here, he created many of his masterpieces.

The Yellow House (The Street) Vincent van Go
The Yellow House (The Street)
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Arles, September 1888
oil on canvas, 72 cm x 91.5 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

4. Vincent van Gogh was not famous during his life

Vincent van Gogh is considered one of the most important painters of the 19th century. But, unfortunately, when he was alive, he was not a successful painter. Vincent van Gogh only ever sold one painting.

Amsterdam Van Gogh The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Nuenen, April-May 1885
oil on canvas, 82 cm x 114 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

5. Van Gogh was crazy and not such a nice guy

According to a biography on Van Gogh, by Americans Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Vincent was a fanatic who didn’t have any friends. He was egocentric, rude, ungrateful, moody, and just a general pain in the ass.

Also, Vincent van Gogh was crazy. Most of his work, some 800 paintings, Van Gogh made during a period of 10 years. Then he fell ill. He suffered from a mental illness.

6. Vincent’s many letters to his brother

We know quite a lot from Vincent’s life because he wrote lots of letters to his friends and family. Vincent was especially close to his younger brother, Theo. Vincent wrote around 400 letters to his brother.

In his letters, Vincent writes about his dreams and disappointments, friendships and fights, and his combat against this disease. But most importantly, he writes about the importance of art in his life and about his overwhelming desire to paint.

The letters of Vincent van Gogh are considered world literature. The letters are published online with English translation on www.vangoghletters.org.

Sunflowers, a painting by Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Arles, January 1889
oil on canvas, 95 cm x 73 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

7. Van Gogh enjoyed a simple life

Most of Van Gogh’s paintings portray the simple life at the farm. He painted the bright colours and light of the countryside, the landscapes, wheat fields, cypresses, sunflowers. Also, he made many portraits and self-portraits.

8. The fight with painter Gauguin was about a woman

French painter Gauguin came to visit Van Gogh when he lived in Arles, France. But that didn’t go well. They both fell in love with the same woman. She was a bartender at the local pub. Van Gogh and Gauguin had a fight, a knife was involved and Van Gogh lost a piece of his earlobe during the struggle.

Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum tickets
Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Paris, September-October 1887
oil on canvas, 44.5 cm x 37.2 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

9. Van Gogh was shot by schoolboys?

According to writers of the latest book about Van Gogh, the artist didn’t commit suicide, but he was shot by some local schoolboys by accident.

10. The Dutch pronounce ‘Van Gough’ with a throat noise

In Dutch, Van Gogh is pronounced with a hard, throat-sounded ‘g’. Dutch people will look at you in a strange way if you ask the way to the ‘Van Gough Museum’.

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